Cayman Islands immigration authorities have dealt with just more than half of all outstanding applications for permanent residence, according to figures released Tuesday by the Immigration Department.

As of Nov. 28, a total of 682 residency applications filed since Oct. 26, 2013 had been decided. A total of 385 were granted, while another 183 were refused – about a 67-percent approval rate.

Another 38 applications were withdrawn by the applicants and immigration officials discarded 22 other bids that were filed too late.

There was a remaining backlog of 618 residency applications, as of last week, from non-Caymanians who have been in the territory for more than eight years consecutively and who are seeking to remain here for the rest of their lives. These applications do not include non-Caymanians who are seeking permanent residence through marriage to a Caymanian or via other means.

Immigration staffers and members of the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board have heard most of the decided applications within the past four months, between July 31 and Nov. 28. Board hearings got off to a slow start in late June and July.

There will be some delays in consideration of these applications during the holiday period. The Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board will stop meeting after Dec. 14 and will resume on Jan. 11. Administrative staffers at the Immigration Department will continue reviewing those applications during working days over the holiday period, although they will also take normal holiday time off.

Immigration staffers, acting under authority from the chief immigration officer, can decide on residency applications by themselves. However, it is likely they would only do so in cases where the person’s case was “non-controversial” – obviously having enough points under the scoring system to be approved.

It is also entirely possible that pending applications will be taken out of order over the next few months, according to HSM Chambers law firm partner Nicolas Joseph.

“In order to process applications as quickly as possible, the authorities appear to be dealing with those which are up to date and in a best position to be determined, even though they may have been filed relatively recently,” Mr. Joseph said in a recent email to firm clients.

“Whilst this is positive and is reducing the delays for some whilst maximising the effectiveness of the authorities’ efforts, it does mean that there are cases of relatively recent applications (including some filed as recently as early this year) being decided, whilst others dating back to 2015 (or even before) may not have yet been finally determined.”

Residency applicants whose cases are “on the fence” of receiving the necessary 110 points for approval will be contacted by immigration authorities, asking them to provide any final updates to those applications prior to being heard, Mr. Joseph said.

If applicants do not receive permanent residence, they can file an appeal against the decision, but must do so within 28 days of that decision being reached.

If unsuccessful applicants do not appeal, they are typically given 90 days to settle their affairs on island before departing

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.